Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

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Why most small businesses die and how to avoid it!

This post is about an extremely important topic. Good, hard working business owners go broke every day. What makes this tragedy even worse, is that in many cases it can be avoided — with one change to the way they think and feel about their business.

I want to explain why these business owners fail. More importantly, I will show you how you can learn from this common mistake and grow your business more successfully than ever before!

Here’s why the problem happens

Most small business owners make it impossible for themselves to succeed.

It looks like this:

  • They know what they need.
  • They know what they want.
  • However, what they need and what they want are 100% incompatible.

They know they need expert help. They work long hours, yet their business is struggling and no matter how hard they work, they make no real progress.

However, they don’t want expert help. No. They want things to just improve.

That’s like knowing you need to water your house plants in order for them to live and grow, but not wanting to water them. So, you sit and slowly watch them die —  wondering if they will magically start growing.

How to turn this around

The reason the vast majority of small businesses go broke, is that they break a golden rule of business success. It’s simply this:

You must align what you want, with what your business needs.

All the time your wants are out of alignment with what your business needs, you will be working against yourself. This is what causes struggling business owners to mistake movement for progress. They are busy. They work hard. However, they are busy working hard on the wrong things.

If you’re not getting the results you want from your business, you will 100% definitely be making this mistake. There will be at least one key area of your business where you are refusing to give your business what it needs, because it doesn’t fit in with your wants.

Try this

If that sounds like you, think about the stories you are telling yourself, which are causing you to neglect what your business needs.

Then find a better story to tell yourself… one that puts you and your business in alignment. You will be amazed at the results you see, when you and your business are pulling in the same direction!

PS: Here’s some very useful information on your wants and needs.

How to increase sales and build an excellent reputation

There’s something amazing about deadlines, which very few business owners tap into. When used correctly, deadlines can help you improve your sales results and build a great reputation too. I’ll show you how this works in a moment.

First, let’s consider just how valuable deadlines are:

  • By giving someone a deadline, you have stated precisely when you expect them to deliver.
  • By accepting a deadline, you have put your reputation on the line. You have committed to deliver by an agreed time.

So, how can you and your business benefit (enormously) from all this?

The marketing power of precise, self-inflicted deadlines

The smartest business owners look for opportunities to commit to precise deadlines. They know that their clients and prospective clients value certainty and clarity.

For example, the power of a promise like, “It will be completed and emailed to you at 9am Tuesday”, is far greater than the typical, weak, “It will be with you in the next few days”. Clear, committed marketing statements attract people’s attention and generate word of mouth referrals, because in most industries they are exceptionally rare.

Yes, it takes courage to offer your clients a precise deadline, knowing you have to deliver on that promise. However, it’s a massively valuable marketing move and one of the fastest and finest ways to build a great reputation.

How to be successful without even trying!

It’s an interesting fact that very few of the world’s most successful businesspeople, set out with money or success as their primary target.

  • They aimed to be valuable.
  • They aimed to make the world or the marketplace a better place.
  • They aimed to make a difference.

However, money or success was not their primary focus.

Here’s how they did it!

Steve Jobs famously said,

“I was worth over $1,000,000 when I was 23, and over $10,000,000 when I was 24, and over $100,000,000 when I was 25, and it wasn’t that important because I never did it for the money”.

If Jobs was focused primarily on the money or success, he’d have been able to cash in when he was in his 20’s — super rich and exceptionally successful.

When Einstein said,

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value”, he showed where his focus was. Again, it was about the value. Einstein carried on working until his death, even though he could have quit decades earlier with his reputation set in history forever.

To understand how the most successful and wealthy business owners achieved their success, we need to look at why most business owners struggle.

It’s easy to spot someone who is in it just for the money

You can usually tell pretty quick, when you encounter someone who is primarily in it for the money. This makes it very hard for them to succeed.

Here are some examples we see all the time, which you will recognise instantly:

  • They are the salespeople, whose eyes light up like a wolf when they spot a potential sales victim.
  • They are the affiliate marketers, who leave spammy links and comments on blogs.
  • They are the pests, who send us unwanted spam email.
  • They are the pushy business owners, who corner us at networking events. The ones who pretend they want to know about our business, when we know it’s that old, cringe-worthy networking tactic.
  • They are the ill-informed marketing gurus who STILL say the money is in the list, because they haven’t figured out the value is in the community.
  • They are the struggling restaurant owners, who use slightly lower quality ingredients and hire slightly lower quality chefs, and end up with a low quality restaurant that no one recommends.
  • They are the kind of business owners you thought of, as you were reading those examples.

Clearly, there is nothing wrong with being wealthy or successful. My point, is that it’s very hard to be either of those things, if they are our primary focus.

Here’s how to succeed without focusing primarily on the money

Consider for a moment the businesses out there, who struggle. They set financial targets and then push average products and average services to average clients who pay them average prices. These business owners then think people just won’t pay higher fees. This is factually 100% incorrect! People won’t pay above average fees for an average, commodity service. They happily pay above average fees and prices for premium, high value products and services.

Now consider the businesses who earn a fortune and succeed. They offer products or services, which are meaningfully different. Their products and services attract the attention of people looking for that special value.

They end up selling valuable products and valuable services to valuable clients, who pay them extremely well.

The way forward for smart business owners

Focus on value. Create products or services that are meaningfully different from the competition. Solve better problems. Create work you are proud of.

Persistently create value and make it visible. People are extremely attracted to value and they pay a premium for it too. Just ask the owner of any high priced Apple product, the owner of a luxury car or the client of any leading service provider.

Get this right and the money and success take care of themselves.

PS: You will find this useful. It explains how to make more sales or attract more clients, without ever having to lower your fees — Marketing 101: The Race To The Bottom.

I grew a successful career and business, with this brilliant idea!

My first boss gave me some brilliant advice, which I am going to share with you. It was something that initially helped me enjoy a hugely successful career. Then, the same advice allowed me to grow an amazing, international marketing business.

I believe it can help you dramatically increase the success of your business too.

Here’s what he told me

He said that the most successful people in his company, worked and acted in a way consistent with what would be expected of their boss.

As a fresh faced 17 year old, I asked why… why would anyone do more than they were paid for?

He smiled and explained that the way to get promoted, was to do the work in advance. This allowed the senior management to see how good you were. He was right. I worked the same hours as my better paid manager and took on extra responsibility. Within a short time, I was promoted and earning more than anyone I knew of my age.

The same is true in business

The work, commitment and decisions you have made until today, have resulted in whatever your business has achieved thus far. If you want a better business, you need to act like those, who already have the kind of business you want.

When you start acting in a way that is consistent with owning a successful business, you make your success inevitable. Beautifully inevitable.

PS: Here are some extremely useful business building tips!

You won’t believe how useful this copywriting tip is!

MacBook Air, 0.68 inch thin

Here’s a great copywriting tip, to help you improve the effectiveness of all your marketing messages.

Words and feelings

Professional copywriters understand the importance of selecting the correct words. We know that the words we use have the power to change how people feel and thus, the actions they take.

A great example of this, comes from the marketing of Apple’s MacBook Air.

MacBook Air: Just 0.68 inch thin

When Apple describe the thickness of their MacBook Air notebooks, they say it’s just 0.68 inch thin. They do this for a reason. They want you to focus on how thin it is, not how thick it is. So, they plant the word thin in your mind, when you think of their product.

Why would they do that?

If thinness is a priority for you when you buy your next notebook, you will now have a mental connection between that priority and Apple’s MacBook Air product. In other words, Apple’s marketing will have created a direct link in your mind, between what you want and what they sell.

I suggest you do the same

Deliberately select the words your prospective client needs to see, so they connect what they need with what you offer. Ideally, this should always be handled by a professional copywriter. It can be the difference between regularly attracting great, new clients… or crickets.

If you are committed to DIY marketing, test and measure the use of different words. See if you can find certain words, which you can weave into your marketing copy, to increase the number of targeted inquiries you attract.

How to get what you want from your business

How get what want

If you have been struggling to get the results you want from your business, this marketing tip could be just what you’re looking for.

As you may have already discovered, the marketplace doesn’t really care about what you want.

Your family cares. Your friends care. I care… however, the marketplace cares about what it wants — not what you want.

So, how do you get what you want from your business?

It works like this: You can get whatever it is you want, providing you look at things a little differently. Instead of focusing on how your business will generate the revenues or profits you want, you need to focus on what the marketplace wants.

You then align what the marketplace wants, with what you want.

Here’s a useful way to begin:

  • Find out, exactly what you want from your business. Get specific. Write it down. Add numbers, financial figures, assets and timescales.
  • Next, you need to uncover what your marketplace wants. A good place to start looking, is to learn what their most pressing problems are. Monitoring social networks is one of the best ways to do this. Follow their conversations until you know what they want. Listen. Really listen.
  • Finally, you need to figure out how to get them what they want, in a way that works for you commercially.

Is this easy? No.

Is it possible? Of course.

Is it worth it? Absolutely!

PS: The bigger the “want” you provide, the bigger the rewards you will receive.

Are you making a noise or making a difference?

It’s easy to add to all the noise out there.

  • Pester people with special offers via social networks.
  • Invite people to your desperate sales video webinar.
  • Retweet that guru who has already been retweeted thousands of times.
  • Write predictable, “me too” blog posts.
  • Agree with whatever the popular opinion of the day is.

The thing is, no one is demanding more noise.

Training people to ignore you

You can’t benefit from the noise deficit, because there isn’t one. So, all the noise makers do is train people to ignore them. Sure, they may have followers, but no one is listening to them. They may have our email address, but their emails don’t get opened or acted on. If they stopped making their noise, we wouldn’t miss them at all.

The difference deficit

Where there is a deficit, is with people who are making a difference. These are the rare people we eagerly subscribe to. These are the people we look forward to hearing from. They add something of value to us and our business. They make a difference. A positive, meaningful difference.

Most importantly, these are the people we miss when they are not there.

And that’s also the best way to determine if your marketing is making a noise or making a difference. It’s a tough question to ask and answer, but would people miss your marketing if it stopped?

Tip: If you need to push your marketing because people are not spreading it, they probably wouldn’t miss it. If people spread the word for you, (send your newsletter to their friends, reshare your work, etc) … you’re making a difference.

How to take your business from average to remarkable

word of mouth, stories

Here’s the problem with average… average doesn’t motivate or inspire people to do anything.

It looks like this:

  • If you have an average meal at a restaurant, you still pay the bill, but you don’t bother recommending the place to your friends. That’s because we don’t recommend average food.
  • If your accountant provides you with an average service, you still pay their fee, but you don’t bother recommending them. That’s because we don’t recommend average service.

In short, average lacks impact.

Why average is so common

A lot of small business owners make the mistake of assuming that because they get few complaints, their business offers an above average experience for their clients or customers. They confuse silence with satisfaction, which is a silly and costly error.

They think they are better than average and wonder why they get so few word of mouth referrals. All the time, they are totally unaware that the problem is with their average approach to business. People are not spreading the word about them, because there’s nothing worth saying.

From average to remark-able

Here’s the thing: With some extra creative thinking, attention and effort, most businesses can quickly go from average to remarkable. Remarkable work is work that is meaningfully different from the average providers in your industry. Remarkable work is exactly that — worthy of remarking on (or talking about.)

When your business becomes remarkable, people talk about you for all the right reasons. They share how exceptional your products, services or customer service is with everyone who will listen.

Give your marketplace a remarkable story about your work and they will share it. Of course, the flip side of this is the acceptance that if they are not already, regularly recommending you, your story needs improving.

If I were you, I’d work on that. Today.

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